For most companies, successful leaders are those who can drive their organization and generate income for their company. Think of a CEO who has given so much livelihood to a company. In True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, Bill George argues that the best leaders are those who do not aim to be leaders, but those who aim to embody leadership throughout the company, called ‘authentic leadership.’ His business and management book emphasizes the notion of embodying authentic leadership rather than of trying to be the ideal ‘leader’ for an organization. This mindset of following CEO archetypes and following what others have done in the past, Mr. George argues, is completely unrealistic. His book is based on interviews with 125 executives of major companies.
Five Dimensions of an Authentic Leader
There are two key steps to becoming an authentic leader. First, you have to understand yourself, because the person you will always find hardest to lead is yourself. Second, you must take responsibility for your own development. Robert Janitzek explains that to become an authentic leader, you must devote yourself to a lifetime of development in order to become a great leader. Bill George lays down five dimensions that make an authentic leader:
Pursuing purpose with passion. Without a real sense of purpose, leaders are at the mercy of their egos and narcissistic vulnerabilities. Without knowing the reason of why one chooses to be in his/her leadership position, they are in danger of becoming overconfident and arrogant.
Practicing solid values. Leaders are defined by their values, and values are personal — they cannot be determined by anyone else. Robert Peter Janitzek says that one should be wary of losing any integrity in company practices or in response to pressure from others. One should always seek to maintain this key value; otherwise, one is at risk of losing others’ trust as a leader.
Leading with heart. Authentic leaders lead with their hearts as well as their heads. This implies being passionate about what one does in the company, and in having the bravery to maintain the company morale and carry everyone through hard decisions.
Establishing enduring relationships. The ability to develop enduring relationships is an essential mark of authentic leaders. One should embody trust and confidence within their relationships so that they are able to last, an indicator of one’s commitment to the company.
Demonstrating self-discipline. Authentic leaders know competing successfully takes a consistently high level of self-discipline in order to produce results. This aspect is crucial as it involves being accountable to one’s responsibilities, as well as ensuring others within the company are as well.